Law & Courts

Lawsuit Challenges Department’s Gender-Equity Rules

By Joetta L. Sack — January 23, 2002 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A group of wrestling coaches and university groups claims in a lawsuit filed last week that the Department of Education has instilled discrimination against men’s sports teams into its interpretation of the federal Title IX law.

In the suit filed against the agency in federal court here on Jan. 16, the National Wrestling Coaches Association and organizations representing students and alumni at three universities argue that a 1996 rule by the Education Department was adopted illegally and is unconstitutional. That rule, in part, says that schools must count actual athletes, not spots available on teams, to prove gender equity.

To comply with that rule, some schools have been forced to cut men’s sports teams to ensure proportionate numbers of male and female athletes, the plaintiffs say.

Forcing “a male athlete off a team or cutting an entire men’s team solely because not enough female athletes have an interest in athletics is gender discrimination per se—with absolutely no corresponding benefit to women,” the lawsuit charges.

The suit does not challenge Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, passed by Congress to ensure that schools and colleges receiving federal funds were giving equal educational and athletic opportunities to both men and women. Many individual lawsuits have been unsuccessfully brought against the universities that cut men’s teams, but the one filed last week targets the Education Department and its 1996 regulation.

“We hope this lawsuit will lead to a more reasonable way to enforce Title IX, one that protects women without harming men,” said Mike Moyer, the executive director of the wrestling coaches’ association, based in Lancaster, Pa.

Discrimination or Not?

The plaintiffs include students and alumni from Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa. The school decided last year to eliminate its men’s wrestling team and downgraded men’s crew to intramural status, to comply with Title IX rules, said spokesman Jon Terry. Groups representing wrestling teams eliminated or downgraded at Marquette University in Milwaukee and Yale University are also plaintiffs.

The Education Department does not comment on pending litigation, said Rodger Murphey, a spokesman. But some women’s groups contend that the lawsuit is unfounded, and could undermine what they regard as a much-needed anti-discrimination law.

Officials of the National Women’s Sports Foundation, based in East Meadow, N.Y., maintained that some men’s teams had suffered because schools had simply chosen to spend more money on teams seen as popular moneymakers rather than keeping teams that did not bring in profits or large crowds.

A university’s decision to cut a team is “a competitive-status decision that may result in less men’s or women’s teams, not a decision that discriminates on the basis of gender,” Donna Lopiano, the foundation’s executive director, said in a statement.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the January 23, 2002 edition of Education Week as Lawsuit Challenges Department’s Gender-Equity Rules


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Whole Child Approach to Supporting Positive Student Behavior 
To improve student behavior, it’s important to look at the root causes. Social-emotional learning may play a preventative role.

A whole child approach can proactively support positive student behaviors.

Join this webinar to learn how.
Content provided by Panorama
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Why Retaining Education Leaders of Color Is Key for Student Success
Today, in the United States roughly 53 percent of our public school students are young people of color, while approximately 80 percent of the educators who lead their classrooms, schools, and districts are white. Racial
Jobs January 2022 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Law & Courts Supreme Court Blocks Biden Vaccine Mandate Applying to Schools in Much of the Country
The justices ruled 6-3 to stay an Occupational Health and Safety Administration rule that covered schools in 26 states and two territories.
4 min read
Members of the Supreme Court pose for a group photo last April.
The U.S. Supreme Court blocked a federal vaccine mandate for large employers, including school districts in about half the states.
Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP
Law & Courts Students Lose Appeal on Right to Civics Education, But Win Praise From Judges Anyway
A federal appellate court panel commended Rhode Island students for the novel effort, but said Supreme Court precedent stood in the way.
3 min read
Scales of justice and Gavel on wooden table and Lawyer or Judge working with agreement in Courtroom, Justice and Law concept.
Pattanaphong Khuankaew/iStock
Law & Courts High Court Appears Skeptical of Vaccine Mandate Covering Schools in Over Half the States
The Biden administration's OSHA rule applies to private employers with 100 or more workers, as well as school districts in 26 states.
4 min read
The Supreme Court shown Friday, Jan. 7, 2022, in Washington. The Supreme Court is taking up two major Biden administration efforts to bump up the nation's vaccination rate against COVID-19 at a time of spiking coronavirus cases because of the omicron variant.
The U.S. Supreme Court is weighing two Biden administration efforts to bump up the nation's vaccination rate against COVID-19.
Evan Vucci/AP
Law & Courts Federal Judge Blocks Biden's COVID Vaccine Mandate for Head Start Teachers
In a challenge by 24 states, the judge's preliminary injunction also blocks a mask mandate for Head Start students age 2 or older.
4 min read
COVID face masks and gavel
iStock/Getty Images Plus